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Friday, December 11, 2015

A Pack of Un-showered Academics Coming to a Civilized Restaurant Near You

Our apartment here loses water more often than any other place I have ever lived.  The only rival for this honor is the apartment where I spent a summer in Jordan years ago.  Jordan is a country with frequent water shortages; I'm not entirely sure what the problem is here.

We lost water around 10:30 on Wednesday evening.  When I brushed my teeth, it was fine.  When Scott went to brush his teeth, it was gone.  I always get antsy when this happens because we never know what to expect.  Sometimes it's out for just a few hours, and when that happens at night, it could be fine by the morning.   Sometimes it's out for considerably longer, though, and very little information is communicated to us about what to expect.

Scott had to get up early for a work function that started at 7 AM (!).  No water at that point, so he had to go stumbling out in the cold without the benefit of a hot shower.  I got excited when, a few minutes before 7, I heard water in the pipes.  I turned on the faucet, and it was running again!  The water is usually yellow or brown when it starts running after being off for a while, though, so I did not immediately leap into the shower, thinking that I'd have time to let the water run clear and still get a shower before needing to give a final exam at 1 PM.  But about a half hour later, when I tried to turn on the faucet again, the water was gone.

I figured maybe I would wait it out.  I fixed myself breakfast because I was hungry, and wanted to eat before the shower I would surely get to take before giving my exam.  Still no water, but I created a few icky dishes with food congealing on them.

As the morning wore on, I tried to get some things done, but I kept being distracted by the water situation, and getting up to try turning on the faucet.  Then I had to give myself a time limit for the water coming back on.  It takes time to walk to my office these days because of all the slick walkways, and going outside with dripping wet hair is not the best idea.  At around 11 AM, I received an email saying to expect the water to be out all day.  Grimly, I resigned myself to a sponge bath (made possible with tap water I had stockpiled in old bottles after having been subjected to a few too many water outages) and headed to campus.  At least there, there would be flushable toilets.

Maybe it shows how spoiled I am that not having a shower would cast such a shadow over my day.  But it did.  It's hard to feel as if I project any authority when I feel like stench waves are radiating from my body like in the cartoons.  Then there was the thought of food congealing to my dishes at home.  I'm not a great housekeeper, but the thought of a mess getting worse as time goes on really bugs me.

Sometime in the afternoon, a friend of ours suggested a group outing to Kakao Dak, a local Korean restaurant.  The main branch of Kakao Dak is located a ways from the university, in a large complex where faculty who either (a) have been here for several years, or (b) occupy higher positions, live.  So, a big, un-showered group of us piled on to the university shuttle that takes the people who live there home at the end of the day.  We then proceeded to take our unwashed selves to Kakao Dak and drown our sorrows in Korean-style fried chicken.  Fortunately, Kakao Dak wasn't very crowded.  I think we inspire mixed reactions from the locals even under better circumstances, and it's hard to see how descending un-showered on a restaurant would improve our image.  (In my opinion, it was completely worth it to avoid the problem of more dirty dishes that couldn't be washed, however).

I was pathetically grateful when the water came back on in the evening.  Having running water in one's home is such a convenience, and I can only imagine the resourcefulness required of people who do not have that.  That being said, I'm looking forward to what I imagine will be fewer water outages next semester while we are on leave.

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